January 25, 2022 4 min read

Diary 25 Jan 22
These small business days are tough. Covidapparently nearing its' peak in Brisbane which seems like good news. The days get harder and longer for us and so many other small business. For those that relied on busy office workers rushing for coffee, lunches and office cakes, we need to dig deep and remember our dreams. The original dream that really got us all into small business in the first place. 

I'm sure like us, most small business and family business starts with a dream. That's what makes small business different and what brings the creativity, passion and uniqueness to the market. 

Trying to cope with all the impacts of Covid on small business I'm using a variety of inspiration including thinking back to exciting food trips that we've taken over the years. Studying other small business, brands and family business around the world has been a great inspiration for us over the years.

So with the need to dig a little deep for inspiration today I looked at this day in 2020 ( pre-covid). We finally visited SaidChocolate factory in Rome, Italy. 

The Said factory was listed for us to visit on a previous Italian trip. On that trip in fact we made an expensive taxi ride across town to the famous chocolate factory. When we got there it was a little like National Lampoon visiting Wally's World. The gates were shut! We'd missed by one day visiting before the factory had shut for the Summer holidays. 

Our next chance was Rome 2020. This time we were in Rome in January and we were determined to visit. We retraced the steps we'd taken those years earlier and again found the oldest chocolate factory in Rome.... open for business.  It was a truly memorable experience. Established in 923 this is an exciting mix of chocolate production, chocolate tasting, coffee and a café/restaurant. 

A green van that says Said Chocolate factory

Said is located at Via Tiburtina, Rome. Arriving at the street address you could almost miss it. A cute little olive green van saying Said Dal 1923, the only thing at street level indicating that you've arrived. The van not only a great sign post but also sets an expectation for the eclectic factory that awaits.

A short walk down a narrow lane and like a chocolate mirage the factory building rises up to surprise and delight. The façade is a lovely combination of old and new. Giant vintage neon letters spelling SAID run parallel down the corner of the old factory building. Below is a lovely contemporary black awning. Large pots abundant with greenery spill over softening the entrance. A sprinkle of fairy lights immediately conjures up a thought of the magic that lies within this building. 

Looking up each window on the building is flanked with romantic Italian green shutters. Exactly what you'd of an Italian dream chocolate factory. A pure white cotton curtain blowing out from a window like a sail in the wind. 

Stepping inside is like stepping into a very beautiful curated Willy Wonker factory. All the charm and excitement of the Wonker factory but by far more sophisticated and beautiful. Old wooden cabinets display chocolate making curiosities of the past. Beautiful glass cabinets filled with chocolate deliciousness. Samples are free flowing and the service was impeccable. 

A vintage display of handmade chocolate moulds

On the wall was a vast collection of old metal chocolate moulds. Big and heavy these moulds told stories of the hard work it would have been to make handmade  chocolate in those days. In front was a display glass cabinet filled with chocolate bonbons ready to sell. 

A display of chocolate and cakes at Said chocolate factory

Aged wooden display cabinets had cake stands lining the tops. Each sparkling stand filled with treats like soft icing sugar drenched Turkish delights looked tempting. Large glass jars brimming with chocolate buttons and lovely chocolate morsels almost everywhere. 

The cave like feel sets such an ambience. Large metal domed mid century  light shades provide a warm light whilst contributing to the industrial feel. A very thoughtful interior that captures factory, chocolate dreams and beauty all at once. 

A cup of handmade chocolate in a cup

We sat down to enjoy a little cake and hot chocolate. Old metal seats and tables continued the style and ambience in the café. A grey soft low French lounge in the centre reinforced a relaxed style. The soft cushions and high backed chairs offered a juxtaposition to the other industrial metal furnishing. A group of three men were talking business sitting back on the couch, partly enjoying coffee, talking and checking their phones regularly.

A glass wall along the side of the café showed a modern chocolate moulding machine. Set in very hygienic white conditions the machine was running and we were able to see chocolate bonbons pumping out at the end of the line.

The hot chocolate served in the café was thick Italian style. Made meticulously with 70% dark chocolate it was presented beautifully in Said branded cup and saucer. Cakes on the menu included Pear, walnuts cake, Apple Cake and there was also a Dolce ricco which was expectantly a gluten free cake. On the counter a range of cookies and all types of coffee made the choices plenty.

Leaving the factory meant walking back through the gift shop. Extremely tempting and so we added a few more bottles of hot chocolate mix and chocolate blocks to enjoy back home. 

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